Wednesday 11 May 2022

Five Poems by Cynthia Anderson


River Daisies, River Geese


They always come back, she says.

Right to this spot.

The bank gleams with snowy petals.

He loves me, he loves me not.


Daisies fall from her hands

as the geese pass overhead.


She leaves her travail behind,

buys a ticket across the sea.

She has never seen so much sun.


She has lived long enough

to be unreasonably wanted

by someone.


She brings back a story to tell

these long winter nights:


My true love stood

on the green bank

and all that is ugly in life

flew south...


She walks or they walk together

along the river in her mind—


And the flowers say

what they always say,

We are here for the taking—


And the water waves

goodbye over rocks—

unlike the calm she came for,

a song to steal her heart.


The Old Woman of the Sea


Can you hear me talking to myself?

I've been in bed for two days,

and my legs don't work.


She is catching her breath

after climbing the steps

that lead from the sand.

Resting her cane on the seawall,

she struggles with the earbuds

from her Walkman.


I was going to give these

to you. I've been listening

to Debussy.


The cords break free

and I place the foam tips

over my ears. La Mer.

She smiles as I praise

the sound quality—

it’s the smile of a woman

who owns a sure thing

that time won't change

like everything else.


The tide is coming in.

Enjoy your walk, she says

through perfect red lips.


The Landscape We Knew


Decades ago, on New Year’s Eve,

lights went out and fierce winds

toppled trees. We gave up trying

to dance on the slick, waxed,

spring-loaded floor, drove home

on dangerous roads—then

you stayed while the wind

finished its work.


By daylight, the city showed

a battleground, crammed

with damage under strange

open spaces where branches

had tethered the sky.


They say if you breathe into

an elephant’s trunk, it knows

your scent forever. When winter

gusts roar, your love revives

as if the wind brought it here.

Branches litter the ground

like before.


A savant plumbs the depths

of music and pulls up a chest

of chains and pearls.


Under the Blood Moon


I’m on the floor by the bed

watching a lunar eclipse

through the glass door, craning

my head. Just past midnight,

the ruthless shadow swallows

what’s left of the light—

leaving a faint, dark echo

tinged with red. The rocks,

who have seen this how

many times, accept their

weightless blanket—

while stars and planets

burn brighter, winding

and dancing like snakes.

Arms wrapped around

my knees, I stare at my feet,

which suddenly appear small—

stretch out my legs, also

those of a child—a child

waiting for her mother to die,

a child waiting for freedom.


For Helena


Trees and stars

need a certain distance


to thrive—no closer.

You taught me this,


planting seeds in the shape

of constellations.


I’m a clumsy learner

with good intentions—


uprooting mistakes

and starting over.


I get there eventually—

patient, watchful,


you beam on.

Cynthia Anderson has published eleven poetry collections, most recently Full Circle (Cholla Needles, 2022). Her poems appear frequently in journals and anthologies, and she is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She makes her home in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park.



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